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This is the oldest known grave on the Oregon Trail. The Hembree family joined the first Oregon bound wagon train of the 1843 season, which consisted of 111 wagons and 254 people. Near La Prele Creek, six-year-old Joel slipped under the wagon wheels as he climbed down from the tongue. The famed missionary, Marcus Whitman, who was also a doctor, attended the young boy, but Joel Hembree Headstonenothing could be done. Young Joel died July 18 and was buried in a dresser drawer.

In 1961, ranch hands discovered the headstone and grave. Oregon Trail historian, Paul Henderson, found the story of Joel’s death in a companion’s diary. Because a planned stock reservoir threatened the gravesite, the young boy was reinterred about ¼ mile to the west, next to Private Ralston Baker, killed in an Indian skirmish on May 1, 1867. The original headstone was placed on Hembree’s new grave.Ralston Baker Headstone

400 feet to the north is the site of the 1860's La Prele Stage and Pony Express Station.

Ernest, Mary, Rose and Mike Velasquez, 274 Natural Bridge Rd, Douglas WY, 82633 (307) 358-0693

Converse County, Wyoming. T32N, R73W.

Exit I-25 at Natural Bridge Road. Go south 2.75 miles, past a sandstone Oregon Trail marker on the left. Turn left onto a ranch road. After about .8 mile, you will reach a Y. Bear right and go to the ranch house. Ask there for permission to visit the grave.

National Park Service Comprehensive Management PlanJoel Hembree and Ralston Baker Gravesite
No known threats. The site is not listed on the National Register.

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